After the guy in front of me finishes with the trial version of Space Invaders Extreme for the 360's Live Arcade, the booth attendant takes the controller from him, carefully buffs it off with a moist sanitation cloth, returns the game to the main menu, and offers me the seat. He asks if I know it. I tell him yes.

"It's Space Invaders," he says, and that's basically all any of us need to know about Space Invaders Extreme.

The game came out on Live six months ago, which seems to be a kind of trend at the Games Japan Festa here in Osaka, Japan: a charming opportunity to play some games without totally losing your goddamned mind.

A third of the smallish basement exhibit-room is occupied by Microsoft's commendably stylish space, with crisp, white TV bezels, seating that succeeds by Being Seating At A Game Show, attractive and fashionable female assistants, and even a gimmick: play a game, receive a fluorescent stamp from one of the women, then return to the front of the booth where your hand will be checked with a special flashlight to verify the stamp, upon which occasion you can draw some random (and large) buttons from a little box. There are no devastatingly incredible world-exclusives, no Earth-shattering announcements.

What there also aren't, however, are the lines that we've so come to expect from shows like this, which is even more alarming considering this is a two-day event open to the public to which admission is free. I was in at 11:00 and out by 2:30 or so, having sufficiently given a handy amount of games a try. People line up nicely, the assistants offer actual assistance, and there's even a mini-bazaar near the edge of the floor space where one can peruse a sampling of games and merchandise for purchase.

Games Japan Festa's gimmick is a solid one, steeped in the Japanese Way: get a questionnaire form upon entry, receive a red ink stamp from the booth's supervisor for every demo you play, then turn in the sheet at the end for two LUCKY PRIZE DRAWS to net yourself a piece of gashapon, a video game, or even a console of choice (DSi, PSPgo, PS3, and 360 all handily represented).

The longest lines were pitiful by an E3 standard, and moved briskly: the wait to sample the new Professor Layton or Ni no Kuni (the Ghibli project) numbered a baker's dozen at most points, while a line to enter walled-off quiet-rooms for the Assassin's Creed and Left 4 Dead sequels seemed the most busy. Across from these, quirkily titled goodness like R-Type Tactics II -Operation BITTER CHOCOLATE- and the strangely named Nintendo DS tower defense game Fuuun! Dairoujou (true to its name, I had a lot of fuuun playing it) hung out with only a person or two in line.

Some of the Japanese-developed as-of-yet unreleased titles like Sega's interesting End of Eternity and Valkyria Chronicles 2 and the otaku-anticipated 360 release of Cave's bullet-hell Mushihime-sama Futari also enjoyed brisk foot traffic, while major upcoming titles (most notably Final Fantasy XIII and any first-party Nintendo offerings) were conspicuously absent. One can't help but feel like the coordinators of the show may almost have actively refused such titles' presence at the show to keep it a little on the down-low: I saw a father with a young kid squaring off on arcade-stick Tekken 6 together for three rounds, a feat that would be nearly impossible at most other modern shitstorm game shows.

It's kind of how this event seems to be charming while in the scheme of things being rather inconsequential for mainstream gaming media: for those in search of the news, there is relatively little to find here. For people looking to spend an afternoon with a bit of a crowd watching them bite demons in half with Bayonetta's hair-clothing (and maybe nab a little taste of some games of the near-future), you've come to the right place.